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Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Mississippi

Departmental Outreach

The department hosts several outreach activities targeting K-12 students, teachers, alumni, and the local community.

  • Astronomy Open House — Once a month the Kennon Observatory and telescopes are pointed to the sky for public viewing.  Faculty and graduate students entertain your questions about the Universe.
    • The Fall Halloween Show — For Halloween, the department hosts a Spooky Night of Physics Demonstrations at Lewis Hall. Early and late shows are enjoyed by the public. It can be crowded, so seize the moment.
Spooky Science Night in Lewis Hall
Join the boos and ghouls from the Department of Physics and Astronomy in Lewis Hall for spooky physics demos. Bring the kids and learn about waves, electricity, magnetism and more.

Those who come should expect a hair-raising experience. One of the experiments involves a Van der Graff generator, a metal globe that shoots enough electricity through those who touch it to make their hair stand up. Harmlessly, of course. We also have other ‘nefarious’ experiments in mind some involving a bed of nails, fire and using an electromagnetic field to levitate items.

The night will also include food and fun, featuring a Halloween costume contest for youngsters, and learning how to freeze ice cream with liquid nitrogen, at minus 300 F.

  • The Spring Fling and Physics Demonstration Shows — Each Spring we traditionally hold a Physics Demonstration show for general students and the public. Please contact the Department for details and watch the web page for announcements.
  • School Science Speaker Program — The Department of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Mississippi brings scientists to your school or organization to give talks about science and meet your community. Presentations range from simple talks and hands-on demonstrations for young children to TED-like talks on current research in physics.
  • Millington-Barnard Collection — The collection of antique physics demonstration equipment for use by Professor Barnard in the first Physics classes taught at the university in 1858 and a collection of Professor Millington’s equipment are on display in Lewis Hall and the Mary Buie Museum on campus. Self guided tours and sponsored tours may be scheduled by special arrangement.
  • NCPA Tour — The National Center for Physical Acoustics is one of the largest facilities in the United States with concentrated research programs in Atmospheric Acoustics, Aeroacoustics, Infrasound, Ultrasound, Porous Media and, and Material Science. Tours of the facility may be arranged by contacting the NCPA secretariat. For groups: contact Shaun Sockwell, Phone 915-1697,
    Individuals interested in a more informal tour should just contact, Drs. Gladden, Mobley, Labuda, or Raspet.
  • QuarkNet — QuarkNet is a nationwide program, ultimately involving universities and laboratories across the US. The goal of the program is to bring high school students, physics teachers and particle physicists together to further physics education.
  • LIGO Detector Outreach — LIGO is a facility dedicated to the detection of cosmic gravitational waves and the measurement of these waves for scientific research. “Astronomy’s New Messengers: Listening to the Universe with Gravitational Waves” is a public introduction to gravitational waves and the work done at LIGO. The exhibit premiered at the 2010 World Science Festival in New York City. A smaller, swiftly portable version of the exhibit was featured at World Science Festival in 2009 and at the 2010 Science and Engineering Expo in Washington D.C.
  • Gravitational Waves and Black Holes — Every year, Emanuele Berti and Thomas Jamerson are visiting a different school or college in Mississippi to lecture about black holes and gravitational waves. These lectures include demos and video/audio presentations. The program, supported by an NSF CAREER Award, targets in particular Historically Black Colleges and Universities, in an effort to increase minority recruitment in the physical sciences. Students are also given an opportunity to visit the Ole Miss campus and to the LIGO detector in Livingston, LA.